Dust Collection Fittings – Building the Perfect Dust Collection System
In this article, we’re setting our sights on building the ultimate dust collection set up for your workshop. Any woodworker knows that dust collection is an extremely important tool for keeping a shop clean and eliminating fire hazards. In this article, we’re looking specifically at the individual fittings you might use to set up an extensive dust collection ducting system.
What is in a Good Dust Collection System?
A dust collector is an essential tool for keeping your workspace clean of dust, wood chips, and other debris. These substances not only cause a huge mess, but they present a tripping hazard and a fire hazard as well. You’d be surprised how quickly the mess can grow without a proper dust collector.
There are many dust collectors on the market, and many which would be suitable for different types of home (or work) woodshops.
Basics of a Good System
Setting up a dust collection system is the best way to ensure that your dust collecting needs are quickly met in an efficient manner.
Of course, the first tool you need to get the job done is the dust collector itself. There are many types of dust collectors, but they can be broadly categorized into one or two-stage dust collectors. One stage collectors suck all the dust into one bag or storage compartment, while two-stage collectors separate the fine dust from the larger wood chips and debris.
Next, a dust collection system is all about setting up your woodshop to easily and efficiently clean the dust generated from each machine. Some will use portable dust collectors that they can wheel around the shop, and some will create extensive networks of ducts and hoses to reach every machine in their shop with ease. Connecting the system right to a woodworking machine is the ultimate in convenience.
To create this network, you need to have the right fittings for the job. In the next section, we’ll outline the major types of fittings you will use to simplify this complicated task.
What are Dust Collection Fittings?
Optimizing a dust collection system is a difficult task. You are mainly balancing convenience against power and suction. You want your dust collection system to easily reach your most common woodworking machines, but you also want to do so without sacrificing the power and intensity of the suction. Fittings are tools that attach to the dust collector and extend its range to all shop areas.
Regardless of what you choose, there are several different fittings you will likely consider. Let’s check them out here:
The first category of fittings are hoses. Hoses are ideal for extending the range of your dust collector. Attaching a hose allows you to reach areas with convenience, and even set up permanent suction areas which are attached directly to your woodworking machines. There are a few hoses which you should consider, all with their own benefits:
Metal ducts are the most high-performance options available. They lose the least amount of suction over the length of the hose. They are ideal for running hoses long distances, as they retain the suction power over the tube's length. That being said, they are more expensive and less flexible than other options, making it much harder to connect ducts in any direction other than a straight line. This is the option for a fixed workshop where you want stationary tools always connected to a dust collector.
A flexible hose has obvious advantages. The ability to twist and turn to fit around corners or directly attach to any machine. However, they also lose the most suction over the length of the line. It is best to use these only where necessary. Minimize the length of flexible hose to the areas where it’s absolutely needed.
PVC piping has advantages that are similar to metal ducts but at a fraction of the price. PVC pipe is also generally quite easy to connect to each other, allowing you to build longer tubes with ease. Of course, they share the complication that they are not flexible, and difficult to use around corners or to attach to a machine.
Aside from hosing, there are a few other fittings that are crucial to the system overall. These work in conjunction with the dust collector and the hoses to ensure that the system as a whole will function properly.
Elbow joints are useful to connect multiple hoses to the same dust collector or create bends and curves in the duct system. They are useful in setting up a hosing system that reaches multiple areas and machines within your shop.
However, the more openings you have, the more suction gets lost. Additionally, the angle of the elbow will cause more lost suction. For example, a 90-degree bend will lose more suction than a 45-degree bend. Consider these factors in setting up your dust collection duct system.
Blast gates are useful so that you can “close off” any hoses or ducts that aren’t being used. This allows the suction of the dust collector to only travel through the hoses that are being used to collect dust, minimizing loss of suction. Blast gates function like sliding doors that attach to your hosing joints, allowing you to slide them closed when not in use. The quality of the blast gate and the tightness of the seal will greatly affect suction. We recommend going with a high-quality metal blast gate.
Putting It All Together
Of course, it’s not just about the parts you use. After all, a dust collection system is the sum of all its parts that work in tandem. You want to be sure that you build your system to maximize power and convenience while minimizing lost suction or wasted space. It all starts with the dust collector you choose. The more power that is generated, the more power can be shared among the separate ducts.
Be sure to use quality parts, and to attach them cleanly and thoroughly. Seal any joints tightly, and be sure that no air escapes from your duct system. It’s a complicated task, but it saves you so much time and effort on a day-to-day basis.